(ABC4) – On Thursday, flags flew at half staff in memory of over one million Americans who died from COVID-19, including almost 5,000 people in Utah. 

Nearly 1,800 people in the Navajo Nation have died from the coronavirus. The latest data shows a death rate of roughly 33 per every 1,000 cases in the Navajo Nation. The state of Utah’s average is significantly less at about 5 per 1,000 cases of COVID-19. 

“I think each and every one of our citizens were directly impacted in one way or another,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. 

Although it’s been difficult, President Nez said COVID-19 restrictions have saved lives. 

“It was about helping our families, helping our communities and putting a bubble over our Navajo Nation so that we can stay safe,” said Nez. “And that’s been that type of teaching has been handed down generations to generations.”

Even now, the Navajo Nation has health restrictions in place. Masks are required both inside and outdoors. Gatherings are capped at a maximum of 25 percent. Most businesses have a maximum capacity of 75 percent. 

“Our Navajo people have gotten used to it because they want to protect our most vulnerable population,” said Nez. 

The vaccination rate among the community also remains high — 67 percent of the Navajo Nation is considered fully vaccinated. The state of Utah’s vaccination rate currently sits at 62 percent. 

Nez said the latest COVID case numbers have been promising, providing hope for the future — a future where they can come together again and heal. 

“We call that “Hozhó,” the restoration of balance in our communities,” said Nez.